Albert Brooks films
2016 has been a rough year, forcing us to take solace in the little pleasures. So here’s something great! All seven films Albert Brooks has written and directed all of a sudden stream on Netflix! Granted, his movies aren’t walks in the park. Through the comedies he’s made himself, he’s revealed himself as a kind of anti-Woody Allen: the quip-flinging neurotic who doesn’t play cute and especially not nice.
Brooks’ first three films are particularly hilarious rolls in the dark, the characters he plays being super-villains whose powers include toxic self-absorption. In 1981’s “Modern Romance” he dumps his girlfriend (Kathryn Harrold) in the first scene, spends the next 45 minutes brooding over it, then the second they reunite he suspects her of infidelity. Stanley Kubrick called it one of his favorite films.
Brooks softened a bit starting with 1991’s “Defending Your Life,” though he got back a bit of his old “edge” (a term he mocks in 1999’s “The Muse,” the only dire one in the lot) in 2007’s “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.” But they’re still brutal, even if they can’t touch 1979’s reality TV attack “Real Life” and 1985’s devastating yuppie satire “Lost in America.”